Federal agencies put Facebook under scrutiny as investigation broadens

Tim Maytom

The investigation into Facebook's sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica being carried out by various US federal agencies is broadening scope, with multiple agencies now looking into Facebook's actions and statements.

According to The Washington Post, which cites people familiar with the official inquiries, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have joine the Department of Justice in its inquiries into how the two companies acted, and their sharing of personal information belonging to around 71m Americans.

The investigation is expanding to include what Facebook knew back in 2015, when it first discovered that Cambridge Analytica had obtained Facebook data to create voter profiles, and why it took so long to reveal this to users or investors. Discrepancies in more recent accounts, including Mark Zuckerberg's statements to Senate committees, are also being scrutinised.

Facebook has confirmed that it had received questions from the federal agencies involved, and has said it is sharing information and cooperating in other ways with investigations from the US, UK and elsewhere.

"The fact that the Justice Department, the FBI, the SEC and the FTC are sitting down together does raise serious concerns," said David Vladeck, former director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection and a professor at Georgetown Law, speaking with the Washington Post, who added that the specific combination of agencies "does raise all sorts of red flags."